Kind: Behind the Design

What’s the inspiration behind KIND’s beautiful design? We talk to architect, Daniel Smith from Edwards White to find out.

On entering KIND, it’s hard to believe the sun-drenched eatery was once the office of a curtain factory —with concrete walls, two tiny windows and presumably some well-made curtains. The space, as it once was, undoubtedly required a fair bit of work to become the dreamy plant-based restaurant that took its place.

Cathie Cottle, KIND’s manager, had a fairly clear idea of what she wanted the space to become. KIND exists to make Morningside a greener, healthier place to live. The design had to reflect this, inspiring diners to make more sustainable, nourishing food choices.

Going global for her inspiration, Cathie looked to places such as the Grounds of Alexandria in Sydney, the nature-centric vegan eateries of Bali and the temple-esque greenhouses of Paris; these exquisite structures all built as natural extensions of their surrounds with windows replacing walls and overflowing with plants. The general aesthetic of these buildings can be described as ‘French botanical’, the main influence behind the KIND you see today.

But as well as beautiful, the space also had to be welcoming. Like KIND’s not-so-vegan big brother Crave, community is still a key focus. KIND had to be accommodating to all sorts — not just plant-lovers and eaters. Especially with Morningside continuing to blossom and an increased demographic of tradies — they want to eat consciously too.

To create this vision — contemporary, light-filled, plant-abundant and welcoming — Cathie and the Crave team knew they’d need a special architect. That’s when they called upon Daniel Smith and the team at Edwards White Architects. 

Edwards White - Kind Cafe Interior

Aside from their impressive portfolio, there were a couple of reasons they were chosen. Daniel Smith is the architect behind Crave 3.0. He helped transform the place into the perfect platform for the community to connect. Crave is now the largest and busiest cafe in New Zealand, and given the smoothness with which it operates, he clearly did a good job. Not only this, Daniel is an old friend of the Crave Collective (the people behind KIND) and things built with friends are almost guaranteed to be good.

Daniel didn’t hesitate to jump on board. When it comes to the Collective’s initiatives, he’d “rather be a part of the story than on the outskirts of it”. He was also excited to be working alongside Nat Cheshire, one of the designers behind the new Morningside Precinct. He’d worked with Nat before — as he explained to Nigel Cottle, the manager of Crave, “Those guys are talented. There’s bound to be some excitement around [the Morningside Precinct] with them involved.”

Daniel was aware that this project had to be quite different to Crave.

“Crave is more community-orientated — it feels like part of your living room. We wanted those feelings of comfort but with its own organic expression.”

To keep the space in line with its ‘plant-based’ ambitions, nature had to be a major focus. To do this, they created an illusion, a feeling that wherever you were in the cafe, you were in nature. They wanted the cafe “to feel like part of the garden”. In line with Cathie’s ‘French botanical’ vision, big open windows and glass were included in the design, to create an abundance of natural light.

Edwards White - Kind Cafe Courtyard


As Daniel explains, this ‘glasshouse’ effect was backed quite strongly by the gardener behind KIND’s many plants, Heather Sulzberger.

“Heather is a bit of a green fingers — she was all over it. She’d started a little glasshouse a year before with cuttings. She took it upon herself to make it her own.”

The flood of sunlight would no doubt help Heather’s plants to flourish in their new home.

Sustainability isn’t just a strong focus of KIND and the Crave Collective. For Edwards White, it’s an unwavering principle behind all of their designs.

“Sustainability is one of the core elements of what architecture should be,” says Daniel.

Incredibly, they managed to transform the old industrial space into a plant-based oasis with minimal impact on the environment.

“Part of building sustainability is keeping as much of the building as you can. You can put in as many green elements as you want but knocking things down is not necessarily sustainable.”

Regardless of the many windows and new-found openness, much of the original structure has been kept. All of the new materials for the remainder of the build have been sustainably and ethically sourced too.

The end result captures Cathie’s vision, perfectly complimenting KIND’s plant-based ethos. The feel of the place is a harmonious balance of open, inviting, unpretentiously modern, relaxed and sleek all at the same time. The fit-out is, in Daniel’s view, a natural by-product of its intent: a warm and organic space that lets the plants sing. It’s the perfect spot to sit in the sun and enjoy a delicious, earth-friendly meal.

To see the architect’s images of the final design and more of Edwards White’s beautiful work, check out their website here.

Did you know KIND can be booked for groups and available for private venue hire? Click here to enquire about booking KIND for groups or private venue hire.

The interior of KIND café, Morningside precinct